Well, dear readers, I have some great news to report to you all, my first book is finally getting back on track, all going to a fantastic cause. The cause in question is the Global and Regional Asperger’s Syndrome Partnership, or GRASP for short.
But first, there’s a confession I need to make, I’m with GRASP, as their Board Outreach Coordinator, it’s a recent responsibility that I was asked to undertake. Those who know me know that I take my responsibilities seriously, so I’m honored to be a part of this wonderful organization. To be clear, the following post comes from GRASP, but I’m reposting their post to help the cause, so please check out the following link.
I know from firsthand experience how important GRASP’s impact on the autistic community, so I’m very happy that I can let this out to you, my readers, so please support this cause by donating for a copy of my first book, Through Autistic Eyes, and as always….
We are excited to announce long time Autism Community member and self-advocate, Brian J. Liston, to GRASP’s Board of Directors as Board Outreach Coordinator. In 2016, Brian was recognized by GRASP with a certificate of achievement for his contributions to the Autism Community. He has recently published his first poetry book and we are proud to offer them to our community!
Brian states, “I have been called an honest poet by many fellow poets and the friends that I’ve made. I must say that I’m flattered when they say that. For me, constructing this book, as well as writing poetry in general, is a labor of love. The love which I feel is a stark contrast to those people who have told me that my dream to be an author was just that- a dream. However, so many people encourage me to keep writing, reading, and going to poetry readings.”
Brian’s poetry has been featured in the Chronogram, the Post Star, and Poughkeepsie’s The Awakening. His poem “Autistic Superkid” was recently features in Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers.
Brian has generously donated proceeds of the book sales to GRASP to provide much needed services, support, and resources to our Autism Community! Please visit http://paypal.me/GRASPorg to purchase a copy for $12, which includes shipping. Please be sure to include your address. Thank you for your support!
(Writer’s note: This was written in December, but in light of the COVID-19 chaos, I thought it might be good to bring it here on this Throwback Thursday, so I hope you enjoy, read on and, as always…
When one thinks of the holidays, holiday music fills the loudspeakers all around us, the malls, supermarkets, restaurants, you name it, the music is always there. Talks with people go into what people do over the holidays, whenever it comes to parties, dinners or just quiet time with families.
I’ve been fortunate to have a loving and welcoming community that is able to see me for being supportive, successful, honest and heartfelt people they know (to those family and friends who know that they are, I wish to thank you for being so welcoming to me.)
But, what of those less lucky than I am? This post is to pass the warmth, love and support your way..
For all the stories I could tell of my holidays, I know that there are people who are less fortunate, those who don’t have the support that I have, one where their diagnoses (or circumstances) have either caused or can have negative impacts when it comes to family get together a, choosing to stay at home rather than risk the humiliation.
For those people, I wish to say that you’re not alone and that you are loved, if not by family then by your friends. Feel free to reach out them because they care about you; let them share their light with you. The road that you’re going on in life has a new direction for you if you want to take it. I won’t deny that it’s scary, it’s full of unknowns and it can be intimidating but I’ve been in your shoes and I know that you’ll discover things about yourself you never would’ve known otherwise.
There are many paths in life that bring us to where we are in our lives and perhaps you’re at a crossroads in your life, maybe now is the time to make a change, to make things right with family, to live your life with no regrets. I beg you to look at the path that has a happier result, but to paraphrase the words of Keenau Reeves in The Matrix, “Where you go from there is a choice I leave to you” but please know that you are not alone in both your triumphs and tragedies; there are brighter days ahead.
If your dealing with personal demons, know that you can seek help if you ask for it and search around your area. Together, we can all shine a light in our communities so we can all…
Yes, dear readers, it’s true, I am autistic, not to say that it’s a bad thing. It can be bad in times like ones where we are in now, with the coronavirus running wild. Changes that seem minuscule, but these kind of changes in rapid succession can be hectic and stressful, to say the least. It can be worse at times where routines, normality and the mundane can be exciting for us, where random cancellations, sudden detours and just sudden changes can be as welcome as a root canal without nova cane.
That being said, it’s nice when you get the chance to be creative, when that spark gets into your eyes, as a college professor mentioned to me, it’s like nothing else in the world, to see the world in a different light. It’s so liberating to know that you can you can be expressive in an appropriate manner.
That’s how I found my voice, becoming a poet helped me do so in an appropriate way. It also has helped me explain to neurotypicals what it’s like in my size ten shoes.
With that being said, it’d be a lie to say that I did it all by myself, as I had (and still have) a lot of support behind me in order to be the person I am, hence where this recent poem came into play:
-for those people in my life that I consider my family; my support system, this poem is dedicated to you-
To be honest, fair;
true I am nothing
For all the trials,
as well as the
on life’s rocky road
I’ve had throughout
my life you’ve been
there for me.
We, both you
and me are family
advice, be it good
or bad, somewhat crazy
but advice and support
For all you do
two humble words
come into my mind,
from the heart…
In times like these, it’s very tempting to focus on yourself, sometimes rightfully so, but keep in kind that you might need help at one point in time or another, so keep supporting each other as best as you can, show kindness and, as always, dear readers…..
(17 years and counting!! I’m so proud about this accomplishment, stay strong and, as always….
Hi, guys and gals!! It’s Brian, here again speaking to you all from the final frontier on the eve of an important event in my life. I’ve been at my job in an upstate Supermarket for 14 (now 17) years, while that may not seem like a great accomplishment, when I read the tragic tales of fellow Spectrumites who’ve given up on the work force or find it difficult, along with the fact that 80-85% are underemployed, it makes the celebration even more sweeter.
To that end, I’ve been thinking of things that I’ve learned in keeping my job and I could boil it down to three important things:
- Let your personality shine: For all the stigma we as Spectrumites recieve about being savants and all that, I think that it’s important to let who we are as people shine, the fact that most focus on details, take pride in our work, are loyal and punctual should be enough to ensure that our talents will excuse our faults.
- Disclose only when neccesary: As my dear friend and fellow Spectrumite, Jesse Saperstein mentions in page 165 of his awesome second book (which I highly recommend) that disclosing is a tightrope act: “When do you disclose and whom do you want to tell?” That’s a very good question and, while the choice is ultimatly yours to make, consider this also, what can be considered a challenge to do might be the best choice for those around you. My supervisor has told me that by disclosing to her, she’s able to see the best in me both now and for her grandson in the future. Others who know me call me an inspiration for keeping my job. The point is simply this, disclosing now can help piece together ways to tackle problems that come up in the future.
- Relax and do the job well: It’s not easy to relax while on the job, it sounds like an oxymoron, but when I statred out, I used to hyperventilate if I didn’t get everything done in the afforded time, but I needed to remind myself that stress (getting overwhelmed, for example) can kill a person if they fail to relax at least once in a while. If you can relax, then you feel like you can do the job you know how to do really well, filling you with pride in a job well done.
Again, it’s not easy to do this, but I can only hope that I’ve helped in some small way guide you to success in the future, good luck!!!
(Writer’s Note: For those who want to know about when and where Masses will be said, I refer you to some ideas of where to go: The Archdiocese of New York shown at the following site: https://archny.org/ and the Diocese of Albany, NY shown on this site: https://www.rcda.org/)
Well, another Lent has come and gone, now the bitterness and sour feelings are gone, replaced with sweetness and joy!!
Even though in the present time, it might not seem as joyous as it has been in past years, there’s definitely reason to celebrate.
The reason for this celebration is one God and one man: Jesus Christ.
That said, I hope you were able to grow during this Lenten Season because I know that I have grown since I made my Lenten Practices on Ash Wednesday, even with everything we went through as a society and a community.
Not to say that they were easy to do, even as I type, I’m on social media even as I tried to keep off until today. Honestly, the keeping soda was the easiest thing to do, but again, it wasn’t easy to do at times. The social media purge was (and still is) especially hard to do in the face of the CO-VID-19 pandemic.
In the past, my Parish Priest always quotes a Saint when he says that “Saints are sinners who kept trying.” During this Lent, it’s something I’ve always kept in the back of my mind; to encourage me when things got rough; no one had it tougher than Jesus. Sure we may fail, slip up, fall into bad habits, but the Easter message tells us that it’s okay to do that, since God has a plan for us, for me, for you, even for His Son, whose Resurrection we celebrate today.
As the Son shines, may we always find a way to preserve and..
Shine On!! Happy Easter!!
I’d like to start off this Letters for Lent with a bit of a riddle for you: What’s something that we all have in common? We all have needs, wants and hopes for our collective future. The problem with that is that, if the media and politics have shown us in recent times, we only focus on the differences rather than those things which unite us. One of the needs that we discuss constantly is the need to be free, which is the focus of both Good Friday as well as Passover.
By His death on The Cross, Jesus set us all free, just as He did when He led Moses out of Egypt and let them to a journey to the Promised Land. I’m sure that’s what we all want in life: to be free, free of worry, free of temptation, free of illnesses, free of the chains that bind us to our past.
Think of getting your first car after getting your license, or moving out for the first time, or traveling abroad to a foreign country. There’s a feeling of shock, alarm and hesitation, but after that shock wears off, there’s that sense of liberation, of excitement, of awe and wonder, the want, the need to expand your horizons beyond what you thought was possible. Freedom is the very reason that various organizations exist in the first place, with the United Nations and Doctors without Borders just being two of them.
Freedom is what we all need in life, it’s what countries strive for and fight for, well, God had a hand in that as well, as He did with Moses, He did with His Son, Jesus, and He continues to work in our lives as well. So, don’t give up hope, don’t lose faith, and as always…
Shine On!!! God Bless You all!!!
I think that it’s safe to say that we all have stories to tell, no matter who we are or what we do in life, our stories are a mere continuation of others stories in our collective families.
Historically speaking, when you read (or hear and see) the stories of other people, one can see themselves in their shows, it makes them relate to themselves more and by extension, other people. Look at The Sound of Music that made Julie Andrews a bonafide star she is (and her co-stars for that matter) as they acted out the real life story of the Von Trapp Family. The Diary of Anne Frank explained how horrible she and her family were treated in Germany, as did St. Faustina document the spiritual struggles in The Diary of St Faustina. Another book that was turned into a movie Freedom Writers was another example about how we can learn from other stories, as it was in the case of the students and the Holocaust survivor. They learned so much, as can we all in the grand scheme.
The reason I started this blog is to share my story, the good, the bad and the ugly, but the reason I want to share my story is because I feel confident in myself to share it with others, especially when people look at me as an inspiration. There was an article that was shared by the Global and Regional Asperger’s Syndrome Partnership or GRASP (GRASP.org for more info.) This article, which I saw before the New Year was eye opening for me and gave me pause: Authoring Our Own Lives: How Autistics and the World Benefit from Auti-Biography (the link for the story: http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2017/12/authoring-our-own-lives-how-autistics.html?m=1 for full credit.)
One part of the article in particular was intruging to me and something that I’ve noticed in writing my life, how much I’ve changed in the five years since I moved from the only place I knew as a home, the author says the following:
Every piece of your life’s journey has worked together to make you the person you are today. When you write about your journey and how it has affected you, you uncover and clarify your values and priorities. It might sound illogical, but in documenting who you are, you discover who you are. Seeing things written down on paper or in pixels on a screen can help you to see that you have ideas and experiences of value to yourself and others.
If you have a journal (as I do), it’s fascinating to see where you are now from where you were before, looking at things in hindsight. The best episode that showcases this is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s In the Pale Moonlight, which Captain Sisko has to go over events that happenedon DS9; decisions he made in the moment and how he can accept the consequences of what he did in the context of his situation. All this he did by looking back at his story and that can ring true for us. All I can say that my poems when I started out writing are not the poems I’ve come up with, I can see how far I’ve come.
Writing can help you go through the rough patches in your life as much as it can for others to hear your story, as the writer says in the aformentioned article:
Writing your feelings and history can be cathartic and therapeutic. It can give you a safe place to address your traumas and work toward healing them. Many of us who have been through therapy have found the standard pace too invasive and emotionally overwhelming. When using autobiographical writing to uncover and work through traumas, you get to set the pace of disclosure.
Not only can writing your stories help you move from victim to survivor to thriver, but there is documented scientific evidence that writing about your life in an emotionally expressive way improves your health, from strengthening your immune system to improved outcomes in asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Finally, all of the above benefits: getting to know yourself better, feeling more competent and in charge of the narrative of your life, addressing and resolving traumas and other problems, reminiscing about the good times, and improving your skills can lead to an increased sense of peace and wholeness overall.
Wow!! That last piece was the one that gave me pause the most: I feel like by writing my poetry, getting the chance to write and share my story has given me a power I’ve been scared of for so long, honestly, because it gave me the chance to be the leader of the orchestra in my life’s symphony, it gives me the ability to grow and chance into a better person; a stronger person. I feel like over the five years since I’ve moved, I’ve been learning to see myself for the first time, like the pieces of my life all came together and I got to see the masterpiece instead of one part of it.
It’s been quite a feeling, to say the very least, so my hope in writing this blog, by sharing my story and my poems, I want to give people hope, shine a light to them and help me, like writing always helped me to do…
I remember watching movies like The Prince of Egypt growing up and always feeling like it should be remembered. But I was thinking as a Roman Catholic, never realizing until later on in life that it is being remembered.
The symbolic meaning of Passover is done in a way to remember the trials that the Jewish people dealt with in the Exodus out of Egypt, as this example from the Jewish News (the link is here: https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/haggadah-says-what-the-new-traditions-of-the-seder-plate/) shows:
The traditional items on the seder plate – an egg, a shank bone, the karpas, charoset, maror and hazeret – all act as visual and gustatory symbols and reminders of the component parts of the Exodus story.
They represent the bitterness and harshness of slavery, the saltiness of the tears of the oppressed, and the korban Pesach the priests would have offered in the Temple.
The symbolism that is prevalent in Passover is relevant to Roman Catholics as well in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Eucharist and The Precious Blood is a recreation of elements that were used in the Last Supper, which was in extension, a Passover meal.
It just goes to show how much symbols (and symbolic things) can help others remember long lost memories. Just as Passover reminds the Jewish people of their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, Roman Catholics are reminded of the Mass, the Last Supper and, especially in these times, the suffering both have dealt with in the past, as a way to bolster them in these the present sufferings.
Let’s let the past and present be the inspiration for our future, a better and brighter future, one where we work together, solve problems together, celebrate and, as always…
Shine On!! God Bless You All!!